Etihad A332 near Jakarta on May 4th 2016, turbulence injures 33

Last Update: December 29, 2017 / 16:28:46 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
May 4, 2016

Classification
Accident

Flight number
EY-474

Aircraft Registration
A6-EYN

Aircraft Type
Airbus A330-200

ICAO Type Designator
A332

An Etihad Airways Airbus A330-200, registration A6-EYN performing flight EY-474 from Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) to Jakarta (Indonesia) with 262 passengers and 11 crew, was enroute at FL390 about 210nm north of Jakarta at about 06:45Z when the aircraft encountered severe turbulence causing injuries to 32 passengers and two flight attendant. The aircraft continued to Jakarta for a safe landing on runway 07L about 45 minutes later. 2 flight attendants and 9 passengers received serious injuries and were were taken to a hospital, the other 22 passengers with minor injuries were treated by medical staff at the airport.

The airline confirmed an unexpected severe turbulence caused injuries to 31 passengers. The aircraft sustained damage to the overhead lockers due to the severity of the turbulence encounter.

The aircraft was unable to perform the return flight EY-475, which was cancelled, and is still on the ground in Jakarta about 10 hours after landing.

On May 12th 2016 the French BEA reported based on information by Indonesia's Authorities, that the severe turbulence was encountered about 15 minutes prior to reaching the top of descent resulting in injuries to a number of passengers and cabin crew. The occurrence was rated an accident and is being investigated by Indonesia's NTSC.

On Jul 1st 2016 Indonesia's NTSC released their preliminary report reporting the aircraft encountered sudden turbulence at 06:40Z, about 15 minutes before top of descent, the autopilot disconnected and the first officer (26, CPL, 2,656 hours total, 1,176 hours on type) illuminated the fasten seat belt signs. About 30 seconds later the captain (48, ATPL, 11,280 hours total, 2,337 hours on type), pilot flying, was able to re-engage the autopilot after flight conditions had become stable again. During the turbulence encounter, that lasted for about 23 seconds, the aircraft encountered vertical accelerations between -0.65G and +1.95G, pitch variations between +2 and -5 degrees, vertical speeds between -2500fpm and +2000 fpm and altitude deviations of -350 to +450 feet.

The NTSC reported two cabin crew and 9 passengers received serious injuries, 22 passengers received minor injuries.

On Dec 29th 2017 the NTSC released their final report concluding the probable causes of the accident were:

The aircraft was flying within the turbulence area of the thunderstorm which the turbulence area was not anticipated and no warning provided to the cabin crew and passengers.

The aircraft was flying outside the visible cloud which was within the turbulence area of the thunderstorm.

The turbulence was not anticipated and no warning provided to the cabin crew and passengers.

The NTSC analysed based on the FDR recordings:

- On the longitudinal axis, wide-ranging wind speed values of varying head to tail wind for two to four second intervals were recorded. The speed variation was greater than 10 knots per second with the highest value of 39 knots/second.
- On the lateral axis, wide-ranging wind speed values of 15 knots from the right, and up to 17 knots from the left, were recorded over approximate 1.2 seconds (average 25 knots/second).
- On the vertical axis, wide-ranging upward and downward gusts between 9 knots/second and 39 knots/second, were recorded within a time interval of between one to four seconds.

The FDR data during the turbulence showed:

- The altitude varied between 38,750 and 39,450 feet. The vertical speed fluctuated between -2,500 and +2,000 feet/minute.
- The pitch varied between -5° and +2°.
- The vertical acceleration varied between -0.65 and +1.95 G.

...

Based on the definition, it can be concluded that the aircraft experienced severe turbulence.

With respect to turbulence detection the NTSC analysed:

The Honeywell RDR 4000 radar fitted to the aircraft, is capable of detecting weather based on the reflection of water droplets, and to some extent, turbulence based on the Doppler detection of the movement of water droplets ahead of the aircraft.

The prognosis chart also highlighted the development of cumulonimbus cloud which may have extended above FL470 (47,000 feet) in the vicinity of Sumatera Island, where near to the area when the aircraft encountered turbulence.

The pilots stated that they did not enter any cloud at the time of the turbulence encounter.

Based on the information from the prognosis chart combined with satellite weather image, and the evidence of severe turbulence, it is likely that the aircraft was flying in the vicinity of thunderstorm when it encountered severe turbulence. The exact distance from the cloud could not be determined but statements from the pilots indicate that the aircraft did not enter these clouds. As the weather radar detection is based on the presence of water droplets, the area of turbulence may therefore not have been evident to the pilots however, based on the description of the Airbus FCTM and FAA Advisory Circular, turbulence may occur outside the cumulonimbus cloud and may up to 20 Nm laterally.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
May 4, 2016

Classification
Accident

Flight number
EY-474

Aircraft Registration
A6-EYN

Aircraft Type
Airbus A330-200

ICAO Type Designator
A332

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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